Blog - India 2014 #1: Kerala

India 2014 #1: Kerala

From February 15 to 24, we went on a trip to India, our 3rd to date! Before we visited southeast (Chennai, Pondycherry, Auroville), then the north (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur), and this time we went to the southwest, in the state of Kerala. We stayed mainly in Fort Cochin (part of the city of Kochi, previously named Cochin), with a 2-day trip to Alappuzha (aka Alleppey).

Most of the people we met in Kerala were quite nice, friendly and helpful (except that some rickshaw drivers can be a little bit pushy). Many people and kids greet you "hello!" on the street, sometimes wanting to take a photo together. Fort Cochin was a very nice place to walk around. Many cats (and goats)! We also saw some nice beaches in Alleppey and Mararikulam (Marari Beach). Kerala seems to be mainly a relaxed place.

Fort Cochin a row of house boats cats and a fish wala

Twice we had no hotel plans, and ended up at guest houses that weren't bad at all. Prince Homely Stay in Alleppey (some guy from there came to talk to us when we arrived at the bus station) was cheap and fine with friendly hosts. While a bit more pricey in Fort Cochin we stayed a night at Silverweed Homestay (this one we had booked in advance) where the family welcomed us warmly, and we could enjoy grandma's idli and sambar breakfast.

Silverweed Homestay Silverweed Homestay

A day on a houseboat

In Alleppey, the houseboats are a common attraction. These are truly like a small house on a boat, complete with a bedroom, bathroom and electricity. The system is that they all depart around 11am, to come back around 9am the next day. The boat stops during meals, and docks somewhere for the night. Alleppey's "Boat Jetty" seems to be the main place where to find a ride, near the town's bus station, but during our stay in Fort Cochin we were given a contact for someone in a slightly remote place (River Lap Cruise in Pallathuruthy) and we decided to give it a try. The boat wasn't one of the best (looking at others), but it wasn't bad at all, even with air conditioning in the bedroom (which we didn't really need though). The 3-man crew was friendly although they didn't speak so much English. It just felt good and relaxing to spend a whole day sitting around and looking at the scenery.

a row of house boats India bed room w/AC

Mattancherry art scene

We took a walk from Fort Cochin to Mattancherry, kind of randomly. Part of Mattancherry is full of tourists, but we ended up finding several galleries and art-related places on Bazaar Road where young creative people hang out. Backyard Civilization is a very nice gallery. Also we enjoyed drinks at Springr Café, where local musicians have their own recording studio. There seems to be several places with artists-in-residence.

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Backyard Civilization

Springr Cafe Springr Cafe Springr Cafe
Springr Café

The food

We had great meals at The Brunton Boatyard hotel, part of the CGH Earth Group (we heard that all of their restaurants are quite good), and also at Old Harbour Hotel which has a beautiful inner garden with a pool and cats roaming around. At the latter, we had the chance to see a tabla & flute show while we ate.

The Brunton Boatyard The Brunton Boatyard The Brunton Boatyard
The Brunton Boatyard

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Old Harbour Hotel

On the cheaper side, we had some good biriyani at Kayees (Ernakulum location) with our friend Momo-chan on our first night. And yet cheaper, we enjoyed some vada and snacks at a shop on the corner of some main streets in Fort Kochi (Pullupalam Rd & TM Muhammad Rd), and we also ate at some very local restaurants that seemed to be popular with local middle-aged men.

Chicken biriyani fresh vada! thali Breakfast

The food on our boat, cooked by our dedicated chef, was also very good!

lunch in a house boat banana frites and masala chai Dinner in a house boat

More photos at Flickr.

Tabla & flute concert at Old Harbour Hotel, Fort Cochin

Houseboat in Alleppey

Duck delivery? in Alleppey

Bus ride on the way from Mararikulam towards Cochin

Posted on March 8, 2014 at 21:54 | Tweet |


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